Case Study - NSW Government Graduate Selection



University graduates in Australia are competing for new employment opportunities that are being offered by a wide range of employers. It is against this backdrop that in 2015 the NSW Public Service Commission (PSC) invited Peter Berry Consultancy (PBC) to facilitate a process that would attract talented new graduates to enrich the public sector. This innovative, whole-of-government approach to attracting and retaining entry level talent had not been attempted for several years. PBC wanted to help create a process that articulated the value of a career in the public sector to graduates that illustrates how intellectually stimulating and emotionally fulfilling this career path can be.


The vision for this program was to develop public sector capability and develop a cohort of future leaders that represented the diversity of the state.  In designing and implementing the recruitment and selection process that identified future public sector leaders, PBC needed to ensure that the process:

  • meet all relevant legislative requirements,
  • provided a positive and equitable candidate experience,
  • reflected the work skills required of a graduate, and
  • used best practice evidence-based contemporary approaches to volume selection.


In consultation with senior leaders responsible for organisational and talent development, PBC developed a survey that captured essential information regarding individuals and enabled the organisation to determine likely talent potential. As there were no existing metrics or strategies in place, PBC included both broad and specific assessments of talent, as well as self-ratings and evaluations from stakeholders. The key characteristics of the program included:

  • Identification of career goals by individuals
  • Self-assessment of strengths and opportunities
  • Responses to behavioural questions assessing leadership capability potential
  • Aspiration for accelerated leadership development
  • Fulfilment at work
  • Alignment with organisational strategy, vision and values


PBC partnered with the PSC over a four month period to manage applications and assess all suitable candidates in order to fill the roles set by the client.  As a result, the program received significantly higher applications. Given the increase in applications, PBC used innovative and best practice techniques to assist with the screening and assessing of potential graduates.

These included:

  • use of valid and reliable assessment methods, including cognitive, personality and situational judgement assessments;
  • use of online technologies to capture data efficiently and enhance the candidate experience;
  • partnership with Indigenous and Disability consulting organisations to ensure the equity and fairness of all aspects of the process;
  • customisation of screening and assessment centre activities to reflect contemporary public sector issues; and
  • training all government assessors in best practice capability-based assessment techniques.

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